D&D QA Archive | 5/30/2014
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D&D Next Q&A: 05/30/2014
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will scour all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the making of the game or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

1 What’s the difference between the Starter and the free Basic Rules? Where should new players start?

The Starter Set is a physical product that contains an adventure, the core rules of the game, pregenerated characters, and dice. It’s intended to be something you can open and start playing with very quickly, providing five levels’ worth of adventure content. This is a great place for people who have never played D&D to begin, because it lets them start having adventures right away using the pregenerated characters.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons is going to be a downloadable file that contains the core rules of the game, along with character creation rules and, eventually, monsters, magic items, and guidelines DMs need to make adventures. That will allow you to build characters, plan adventures, and play all the way up through 20th level. Basic D&D provides a traditional D&D experience that will allow you to play any adventure—including those in the Starter Set—using only this file. Basic D&D is a great place to start if you’re already familiar with D&D from previous editions and want to try out the fifth edition of the game, or if you want to play through the Starter Set (or other adventures) using characters that you’ve made yourself.

Of course, if you’re looking for more options than Basic D&D provides, the core rulebooks (Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide) give you even more content.

2 Will the basic rules update that includes monsters have monsters for all levels of play?

The plan is to include monsters that facilitate play across all twenty levels. These will mostly be the most iconic D&D monsters that you’re already familiar with. Additionally, thanks to the way our game’s bounded accuracy works, monsters that appear in small numbers at low levels are still useful at higher levels, so we’ll be including monsters that we think have value across all tiers of play.

3 Will adventures be focused more toward the basic rules, or is the assumption that they are built for people with access to the books?

Our goal is to make Basic D&D contain everything you need to play, or run, the major campaigns we launch, such as Tyranny of Dragons. That means that any game material referenced in those adventures will typically either be in Basic D&D, or in the adventure itself.

How can I submit a question to the D&D Next Q&A?

Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to dndinsider@wizards.com. So, if you'd like to have your question answered in the D&D Next Q&A, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!

Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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Thanks Wizards, for all your hard work at keeping the game alive and well. i, for 1, am excited about the new releases. ? I've never actually heard anyone complain so much about free stuff before.And do people really have nothing they can entertain themselves with until all the books they want are released? I hope I never get that way. It appears to get in the way of the excitement.
Posted By: N.Faolan (7/3/2014 4:16:53 AM)


This really makes it sound like the starter set won't contain rules for character creation. Seriously?!? Did they learn nothing from their previous failed attempts at a "basic set" type product? This is THE most important thing a starter product needs to include because that's where most of the game's appeal is. Yes, the Basic download will allow this, which helps a little, but there are a lot of people out there who won't want to bother with that for one reason or another and won't realize they're missing out on the game's most important feature. I don't care what you have to sacrifice to make room, a starter product MUST ALLOW CHARACTER CREATION!!!
Posted By: jeff-heikkinen (6/2/2014 7:04:31 PM)


Even if the Starter Set doesn't contain character creation rules, they are giving those rules away FOR FREE. The entire game, everything a decent DM will ever need to create a campaign, is going to be available online for the cost of the time is takes to download it. How can anyone be complaining about that?
Posted By: Kormyr (6/3/2014 9:43:43 AM)


Sorry, my comment was a reply to Blue23, and it ended up not being a reply.
Posted By: Llenlleawg (5/31/2014 3:42:02 AM)


That's not quite right. By August, you will have the full set of options for characters, and (i believe) the Basic Rules will be updated to include monsters, and perhaps the other things mentioned above. At that point, you are good to go. True, you will have more monsters options by the end of September, and some options of how to tweak/customize the game by November, but honestly, I don't see that you would need or want all of those dials for just the first 2-3 months of gaming. So, don't wait! You can try the adventure in the Starter Set in July to get your feet wet, and then either make new characters from the Basic Rules or, if you can wait just a month, get the whole PHB and you're good to go!
Posted By: Llenlleawg (5/31/2014 3:40:38 AM)


"Our goal is to make Basic DnD contain everything you need to play, or run, the major campaigns we launch, such as Tyranny of Dragons. That means that any game material referenced in those adventures will typically either be in Basic DnD, or in the adventure itself."

Does that mean that there'll be "minor" campaigns or other adventures which use the Standard rules set?

And does that mean NPCs in "major campaigns" only use Basic mechanics - no Feats, Maneuvers, etc.? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (5/30/2014 11:03:43 PM)


Sounds like they will publish everything assuming players only want to play the simplest, noobish game. Which means that they are hoping that no modules change the balance of play in the least. I wish they made their campaigns for the most common set of rules. You know, for actual DnD players. Making any easy-to-introduce set of rules is good. Forcing all your published campaigns and adventures to that level isn't.
Posted By: Blue23 (5/31/2014 1:21:05 AM)


Actually, I asked because it sounds to me like they're NOT going to publish everything for just Basic. It sounds to me like only "major campaigns" will use Basic and everything else will use Standards.

I agree that more people will use Standards, and I think this decision is one that will silently disappear quickly.

But I am curious to see just what the statement means... - John
Posted By: Seanchai (5/31/2014 11:19:03 AM)


How would an adventure for the "simplest, noobish game" be any different than an adventure that assumes the "most common set of rules?" Would Against the Giants need to have been written differently if players couldn't be Paladins?
Posted By: G_X (5/31/2014 1:30:35 AM)


That depends. If Basic doesn't include, for example, Feats and Maneuvers for its Fighter NPCs, then, yes, at least some of the adventure would be different for the Standard rules set.

That aside, what's interesting is that the Standard rules set - named by WotC - does not appear to be the standard that WotC will be using.

More importantly, people want to use what they pay for. We'll have to see just what Basic contains, but I imagine more people than not will chaff under this restriction... - John
Posted By: Seanchai (5/31/2014 11:22:59 AM)


Nobody said the Basic PDF wasn't going to include feats. It'll have all the spells, too! It's just got a style which precludes playing gnomes, or psionics, and complicated builds like the Battle Master Fighter, specialist Wizards, or probably a Treasure Hunter Rogue.  As Mike Mearls said (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20140527), "It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each," and most likely only gives one option for each race as well.  This treatment lends itself to the open-ended improvisational approach encouraged by Holmes & Moldvay Basic (pre-AD&D) D & D, but by design is compatible with the off-the-shelf beginner-playable Starter Set and customizable, skill-oriented hardbacks to be released later.  None of this precludes power creep, you get what you get for free and there will be the usual cottage industry of providing workaround... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (6/1/2014 8:16:00 PM)


A couple of the local stores have NOTHING scheduled for the 5th Ed release.

Posted By: Kazadvorn (5/30/2014 7:03:24 PM)


So I have to do this one sentence at a time?
Posted By: Kazadvorn (5/30/2014 7:04:02 PM)


Are there any field reps for DnD 5th ed?
Posted By: Kazadvorn (5/30/2014 7:04:39 PM)


Posted By: RadperT (6/1/2014 7:19:36 PM)


To organize Adventurer's League play, set up Encounters, find and organize DM's for weekly events.
Posted By: Kazadvorn (5/30/2014 7:05:46 PM)


You guys are awesome!
Posted By: Sands666 (5/30/2014 6:58:12 PM)


Is there a reason that the 3 books are released months apart? How does this affect making a campaign? Do I have to wait until November to start a 5th ed campaign? Kind of perplexed on why these books are released all at once.
Posted By: Norion12 (5/30/2014 4:09:02 PM)


I think you'll still be able to start a 5e campaign, as far as I can tell, they're going to update the basic PDF with monsters at least that can be used level 1-20. If you need advice, a lot of the DM stuff is fairly edition neutral and with bounded accuracy, the DC's shouldn't be hard to calculate.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (5/30/2014 4:16:26 PM)


aren't *
Posted By: Norion12 (5/30/2014 4:16:36 PM)


You can start a campaign - as long as you only want to play with the basic rules, no modules, and only one choice per class. Otherwise, you wait.
Posted By: Blue23 (5/31/2014 1:22:50 AM)


Norion12 The reason is pretty common actually. Bookstores will not buy all three or buy enough of one if all three come out at the same time. There has been a history of this kind of release schedule for the first two editions of the game and it works quite well, especially with the free PDF being included early.

I don't feel that this makes much of a difference anyway since all three books will be out before XMas and we have already waited awhile for the final release, what's a few more months? In the meantime, enjoy the free material!

For anyone else that is complaining about the FREE PDF and what it does and does not include...please get over it. The fact is, they didn't have to do this, but they NEEDED to because Pathfinder is gaining traction and 4e did not take off as hoped. They need our support by making sure all of our players get a copy of the core rules ASAP so they feel compelled to buy at least the PBH.
Posted By: NormDM (5/31/2014 5:36:26 PM)


I love this. It's good for gamers. A free PDF of the basic game can be put into the hands of people who are new to gaming and aren't ready to commit the cash. They can play, their interest can grow ,and the market will expand. It's a chance to put the basic rules of this new edition into older hands who were on the fence about buying into new editions. They can try it without commitment, which has potential to reintroduce a part of the market that was alienated by 4th. My first few weeks playing 4th edition I did not have any of the books, and most of the table relied on passing the DM's copy around (which was tedious). This is a brilliant move and I support the decision. I agree that it's pretty ballsy, but from what I see and hear, from my experience of the playtest, it's going to pay off. They're rolling out a fantastic set of books.
Posted By: HarrodSadElf (5/30/2014 3:01:58 PM)


How is this good for the LGS? I spoke with my local game store owner and he was told by WOTC that the basic editon is to learn how to play and get use to the new rules. It is the equivalent of the Red Box from 4e. But the 4e red box didn't let you create a character upto level 20 did it? The campaign definately didn't take you up through level 20. It sound like the shops and the players are being told two different things here. As a DM i will be buying the three core, the adventures and the minis. Once I have those and players have the basics, why would they need to buy from LGS (local game shop) other than more minis?
Posted By: DDMTGGeek (5/30/2014 1:48:37 PM)


To buy more splat books. Players handbook 2, Fiend Folio, Unearthed Arcana. DMs buy more adventures.

Pathfinder thrives on the exact same model.
Posted By: therealking (5/30/2014 2:47:51 PM)


You are only getting 4 classes (1 subclass each) and 4 races in Basic. Enough to play from 1-20, but not as much replay or customization.

So you buy the books to get access to druids, warforged, necro clerics, weaponmaster fighters, drow, brass dragons, extra backgrounds, extra magic items, ect...
Posted By: mellored (5/30/2014 3:36:37 PM)


That last answer is awesome. You guys are taking a huge gamble on this method of release, and I think it shows the faith you have in the big 3 books. Astounding.
Posted By: CelticPaladin (5/30/2014 1:35:34 PM)



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